Pfc. Robert Blatchley was serving with the Sixth Howitzer Battery, 27th Field Artillery, U.S. Army at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas. It was the middle of May, and like other soldiers earning $87 a month, he had empty pockets, a head full of dreams and belief in a horse he knew couldn't lose.
With the weekend off and only five more days until his discharge date, he was hoping to watch the 1964 Preakness on television. Maybe if he could get a bet down and have a rooting interest it would ease the feeling of loneliness, the void that comes with being away from home and realizing that important things are going on and you can't be there.
But Private First Class Blatchley didn't have enough money for a Preakness wager. With typical GI ingenuity, the young man carried his Army-issue overcoat to a pawn shop in downtown Fort Smith, Ark. Surprisingly, he got $10.